The sublime time of race: rethinking black history and contemporary film


In a neo-liberal capitalist context of ‘no future’ and the ‘end of history’, where utopian futures are near impossible to imagine, questions of temporality, memory and history have emerged as sites of cultural and political struggle. This is particularly the case for black and postcolonial histories entangled in a commodity (multi)culture driven by ‘atemporal’ fantasies of ‘post-race’.

In this seminar Ashwani Sharma (Principal Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of East London) will examine the aesthetics and politics of race and time, focusing on recent black cinema – from popular films such as 12 Years a Slave and Selma to independent productions like John Akomfrah’s The Nine Muses. In a contemporary digital media environment obsessed by archives, cultural memory and nostalgia, the sessions asks what past, present and future do these films offer? How is black history represented? Is the future always to be haunted by the traumas of the racial past?

This is the second of OSE’s In Theory seminars, in association with The Centre for Cultural Studies Research (CCSR) at the University of East London. Click here for more information on CCSR.